Is the U.S. Actively Trying to Prolong the Syrian Civil War?

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Why is President Obama escalating U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war? Dan Drezner offers this take, which he’s been murmuring about occasionally for the past year:

[Obama’s goal] is to ensnare Iran and Hezbollah into a protracted, resource-draining civil war, with as minimal costs as possible. This is exactly what the last two years have accomplished…. at an appalling toll in lives lost.

This policy doesn’t require any course correction… so long as rebels are holding their own or winning. A faltering Assad simply forces Iran et al into doubling down and committing even more resources….For the low, low price of aiding and arming the rebels, the U.S. preoccupies all of its adversaries in the Middle East.

….Now let’s be clear: to describe this as “morally questionable” would be an understatement. It’s a policy that makes me very uncomfortable… until one considers the alternatives. What it’s not, however, is a return to liberal hawkery.

In a nutshell, the idea here is that we want both sides to be evenly matched so the fighting continues as long as possible. That will weaken pretty much everyone we hate: Assad, Hezbollah, Iran, and the Al Qaeda groups among the rebels. As long as these folks continue killing each other, we’re happy.

Is it a sign of terminal naiveté that I find myself unable to believe that this is conscious Obama administration policy? Or has Drezner simply been watching too much Game of Thrones?

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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